Final Fantasy creator and Mistwalker boss Hironobu Sakaguchi sees value in both Japanese and western RPGs, and thinks deciding between them is a matter of taste.
“A lot of western RPGs focus on creating a world and award the player a great deal of freedom in it, instead of focusing on a story. I think the interest in Japanese RPGs is divided based on how people feel about that difference in style,” Sakaguchi told Nintendo Gamer, via CVG.
Despite Sakaguchi’s belief in Japanese-style, story-based games, Mistwalker’s latest, The Last Story, throws out a couple of JRPG tropes by skipping grinding and allowing the player to fast forward cut scenes. That doesn’t mean the director thinks the traditional JRPG is over.
“I think you can make a fun game using just traditional RPG elements,” he said.
“We have both period dramas and modern day dramas, and in the same way I think there are lots of different ways a game can be fun.”
Indeed, while The Last Story innovates the classic JRPG formula, Sakaguchi isn’t ready to embrace every aspect of successful western RPGs.
“Exploring huge worlds is often a big feature of RPGs, but we decided to cut down the time spent wandering around like that and try making something with a bit of a faster pace. We tried to make it feel like being on a rollercoaster,” he said.
Sakaguchi did give a nod to western development’s technological advances, though.
“In particular in terms of graphics, western games have seen startling advances. I feel that Japanese games were ahead back when 3D was first used in RPGs such as in FF7, but now perhaps you could say that Japanese RPGs aren’t being praised so much for their graphics,” he added.
Asked where he sees the future of games, Sakaguchi said he expects social and portable gaming to take over.
“I think these games will also gradually get more and more sophisticated and on a larger scale. I guess it’s the same kind of thing as what we saw when arcade games were superseded by home consoles that weren’t necessarily as powerful,” he predicted.
“We saw gaming move from the arcades to the living room and now we’re starting to see them shift from the living room, becoming portable with an emphasis on online gaming. The place where you play games is becoming wherever you happen to be, and so we’re seeing less and less of people sitting down to relax for a long gaming session. I think as these become complemented with other, new ideas – such as allowing other people online to help you in the game, even if you don’t do anything – we may see these games on a larger scale and with more sophistication.”
The Last Story is out now in PAL territories and arrives in the US in June.